How do you bring a 1960s university hall of residence up to current standards whilst at the same time giving its exterior a fresher and smarter look? The answers were provided by Strasbourg architecture firm Urbane Kultur and Terca façade bricks.

Project details

Project

Renovation of the Alfred Weiss university hall of residence in Strasbourg, France

Architect

Urbane Kultur

Client

Strasbourg CROUS

Facing bricks Terca Terre blanche

Residence Universitaire Alfred Weiss, France © Grégory Tachet

Residence Universitaire Alfred Weiss, France © Grégory Tachet

Residence Universitaire Alfred Weiss, France © Grégory Tachet

A successful facelift

Built in the 1960s according to the precepts of the Athens Charter and the "functional city" dear to Le Corbusier, the Alfred Weiss university hall of residence belonging to the Strasbourg CROUS was in need of dual restructuring: interior renovation to offer the students the convenience of single rooms in a relatively confined space, and exterior renovation to meet contemporary thermal insulation requirements whilst at the same time giving the building a successful facelift.

Brick provides thermal insulation and a new look

The 208 renovated study bedrooms, each less than 10 m² in size, have a triple function: sanitary cubicle, optimised storage and larger windows to open up the horizon and eliminate the feeling of confinement.
 
To meet the thermal requirements, the only solution was external wall insulation. The option chosen to give the hall of residence an entirely new look was the Terca façade brick, which was used as external facing.

Merging modernism and tradition

Combined with insulating material, the brick reinforces the insulation and considerably limits the thermal breaks. It provides acoustic comfort and a long-lasting façade, with the building being protected against the elements and external shocks.
 
From the aesthetic point of view, the Terca brick allows a combination of the modern and the traditional, playing on colour and the laying of the bricks to rectify and create a vibrant effect on the façades.
 
This was the aim of Urbane Kultur, a firm of architects with considerable experience in restructuring communal buildings, sports, water sports and cultural centres as well as school buildings and children's centres.
 
Philippe Dahan, architect and partner in the firm summarises the choices behind this rehabilitation project:"Regarding the exterior structure, we had a building whose geometry was not perfect and whose thermal behaviour was seriously dated. We also had to deal with the change in the building base, which previously was open and is now enclosed down to the ground. This was achieved by adding a U-shaped metal section between the ground floor and the first floor. As well as its thermal and long-lasting qualities, in an environment where this material was already present, the Terca brick - with its warm white colour and laid using the Joints Vifs® dry joint masonry system to create an abstract, graphic effect - gives the building a calm, solid, sober look. It also has another advantage that is important in this type of renovation project: it allows structural defects and deviations in verticality to be corrected."

 

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